JOHN SHIRLEY & JERRY KING
Spaceship Landing in a Cemetery
(2018 - Jupiterworks Music - USA)
The first seconds of this cool hybrid release reminded me of Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come ( specifically 'Journey') fused with Blue Oyster Cult. The BOC echo comes from the fact that author/poet/singer John Shirley wrote lyrics for a dozen and a half songs for that band, in the past. The 70's classic rock vibe is purebred, yet the injection of several other genres make 'Spaceship Landing in a Cemetery' a very modern listen. All songs are composed and performed (except for the wonderful guests) by John Shirley and Jerry King. Many of the players have worked on Moon Men, Manna/ Mirage, and various other Dave Newhouse and Jerry King projects. 'Puppet Dance' (track 2) immediately takes the classic rock sound to an entirely different place with a strip tease dance, along with Shirley talking over the music to tell the story. Musicians featured on that track are Michele King, Dave Newhouse, Ginger Marten, and Chad Wardwell. Following that 'Nothing' (track 3 - featuring Mark Carlson, Michele King, and Bill Jungwirth) continues this Kevin Ayers funky blues, giddy filled tune. You can't help but have fun with some of the disc. Lots of tongue in cheek, yet the musicianship is top notch and keeps the attention level high. The lyrics and often dramatic (sometimes humorous) vocals make each song a must listen.
It is with 'Machinery of the Sea' (track 4 - features Mark Carlson) that a beautiful and haunting guitar intro (thanks to Jerry King's tasteful guitar and talents, who is also a fine keyboardist and bassist, among other instruments) gives way to a narration that is in the same world as Harold Budd's epic narratives (on works such as Harold Budd & Hector Zazou - 'Glyph'/ Harold Budd With Zeitgeist - 'She Is A Phantom'/ and Harold Budd - 'By The Dawn's Early Light'). This surrealistic style appears throughout the recording, and allows Shirley's storytelling to have a captive audience.
One must enter this recording with an open mind, and enjoy the poetic delight, with what could be songs from the jukebox in another planet's nightclub while various colored and shaped characters drink, dance, and socialize. Or perhaps you will just want to sit and enjoy this cornucopia of odd rock, surrealistic lounge, blues and eccentric presentation. The cerebral and highly atmospheric creations, bring in influences from Lou Reed. Check out 'Why Am I so Weird?' (track 7 - featuring Michele King, Mike Kinney, Jamie Bruhn, Mark Larson, Bret Harold Hart, Pete Prown, and Tim Gessner, for a big dose, and in fact, one song is titled 'Lou Reed's Last Words' (track 9 - featuring Michele King, Mark Carlson, Jamie Bruhn, and Bill Jungwirth). With nods to Reed, Ayers, Budd, and a general assortment of oddities, all made possible by Jerry King's and John Shirley's abundant skills, the music ends up leaving quite an impression, with evocative lyrics and sobering thoughts. 'High' (last cut - featuring Ginger Marten, and Bill Jungwirth) has the most light and easy feel.
What a grand ride on this spaceship through the universe, not yet known by most. With especially nice celestial effects, a platter of mystery, and entertainment all at once. Where ever I end up buried, I hope this ship lands in my area. The recording surprises and titillates the listener. Let your mind relax and absorb this. Excellent indeed!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 1 - 3 - 2019